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Meal prep business crafts healthy alternatives to comfort foods

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A major struggle that comes with being healthy can be figuring out what foods to eat without sacrificing comfort meals and favorite flavors.

It was this very struggle that Bloomington native Ben Canary faced alongside his brother when the two started trying to eat healthier and get into shape.

Then, the two discovered the answer to their problem by accident. The answer? Cooking the same comfort meals they loved, but differently.

“My brother and I were just trying to (make) healthy food and get in shape. It worked really well, (and eventually,) people started asking us to cook for them,” Canary said.

Soon enough, the brothers turned their cooking into a business in 2016, naming it HercuLean Meal Prep. In the past 7 years, they have opened 4 stores between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, and have created a variety of meals.

A look inside one of the store’s refrigerators shows rows of pre-made, ready-to-go meals: Pesto salmon pasta, barbecue mac-n-cheese, chicken alfredo, spinach artichoke chicken, a burger bowl, and more.

When I asked what made the meals healthy, Canary said it came down to “portion control.”

“If you’re making pasta at home, you’re probably going to make a really big plate. (When we make) our barbecue mac-n-cheese, for example, we trim the fat off the pork and smoke it overnight. Then we make (a controlled portion) of mac-n-cheese. It doesn’t have a bunch of butter,” Canary said.

He also adds that when making their meals, they try to pull out the calorie-dense ingredients, and “put it together in portions that (add up to) 400 – 500 calories.”

Canary, who is studying full-time to gain a master’s in business administration, says it has been difficult. Canary runs most of the business, as well as preparing and cooking meals. The difficulties, he says, are worth it when he sees the impact it has made on people.

“What is more important to me (than business) is whenever I am in a store, I meet someone and they tell me how the meals have impacted their lives. That’s heart-warming,” he said.

HercuLean Meal Prep also ships its healthy comfort foods worldwide. Meal plans include 14 meals at $9.49 a meal, or 28 at $9.29 a meal.